15 BEST Beaches in Massachusetts [January 2020]

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Historically, there has been a competitive nature between the northern and southern shores in Massachusetts. Yet, one thing these two regions have in common is their pristine natural beaches that are ideal for any type of beach-goer.

Being positioned on the United States’ east coast, the state of Massachusetts is blessed with expansive beachfronts that culminate in the Atlantic Ocean. But many popular beaches are also found in the estuaries connected to the ocean. In this article, we showcase the finest public beaches in the state, some of which are hidden gems.

Table of Contents

Best Places to Stay in Massachusetts

If you’re looking for some scenic Massachusetts ocean beaches, then the Cape Cod region boasts pretty impressive and expansive natural beach areas. This area is a 70-mile long geographic cape located off mainland Massachusetts. It’s positioned on the Atlantic Ocean and is ideal for beach vacations because it has lovely seaside villages to stay in.

#1 – Jonathan Edwards Motel

Best Budget Hotel in Massachusetts

Jonathan Edwards Motel

Jonathan Edwards Motel is our pick for the best budget hotel in Massachusetts

This reasonably-priced motel is situated in the Dennis port area of the Cape Cod. It’s within close reach to the Atlantic Ocean and some of Cape Cod’s most scenic beaches. And, if you’re not in the mood for the beach, you’ll have your very own crystal blue pool and sun deck that are both on-site.

#2 – Inn on the Sound

Best Mid-Range Hotel in Massachusetts

 Inn on the Sound

Inn on the Sound is our pick for the best mid-range hotel in Massachusetts

Looking for a personalized beach experience? Then this Inn in Falmouth has you covered with its own private beach for your convenience. And when you’re not feeling up for the sand, you can still view the ocean perfectly from your hotel window. The hotel comes equipped with tennis courts, and a generous continental breakfast every morning.

#3 – Beauport Hotel Gloucester

Best Luxury Hotel in Massachusetts

Beauport Hotel Gloucester

Beauport Hotel Gloucester is our pick for the best luxury hotel in Massachusetts

If you want to feel as if you’re in a tropical beach resort, then stay at the Beauport Hotel. The luxury boutique hotel is situated in Gloucester’s Harbour. It’s a beachfront hotel that boasts a rooftop pool and bar with uncompromised ocean views. It comes equipped with a fitness center, and has a beach right in front of it.

 #1 – Crane Beach, Ipswich

The Most Popular of the North Shore Beaches MA

Crane Beach, Ipswich

Crane Beach, Ipswich (Photo credit – tripadvisor.com)

  • Forms part of a large conservation area that occupies almost 1300-acres
  • Its shoreline stretches for 4-miles

This beach is located in a conservation area that hosts the North Shore’s largest pitch pine forest. Yet, the flora isn’t the only species preserved here. The estate prides itself on being a favored nesting zone for the endangered piping plover bird species.

Over and above being an ecological protection region, the beach boasts some of the most unrivaled swimming experiences for Massachusetts beaches.

#2 – Mayflower Beach, Dennis

One of the Best Beaches South of Boston for Kids

Mayflower Beach, Dennis

Mayflower Beach, Dennis (Photo credit – vrbo.com)

  • This is a family-favorite beach because of its shallow pools during low-tide
  • It has a boardwalk and expansive sandy beachfront that is adjacent to the Cape Cod Bay

This beach treads along the mid-Cape Cod area and is a top contender for Dennis beaches MA. The beach compresses three into one which means you’ll certainly find a spot to sit, either avoiding the crowds or approaching them.

Families especially love this beach because, during low-tide, the tidal flats establish shallow pools for the kids to splash around in. These sought-after, secure shallow pools stretch for almost 1-mile, until they are swallowed by the tide.

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#3 – Moshup Beach, Aquinnah

One of the Most Remote Massachusetts Beaches

Moshup Beach, Aquinnah

Moshup Beach, Aquinnah (Photo credit – timesofindia.indiatimes.com)

  • A lesser-known beach in Martha’s Vineyard, with the backdrop of the rugged Aquinnah cliffs
  • This low-key beach extends for half a mile

If you’re searching to escape the crowded beaches in Massachusetts, then Moshup Beach (also known as Aquinnah Beach) is your best bet.

What’s more, is that the furthermost point of the beach, approaching the cliffs, is clothing-optional. But take note that this is optional, and doesn’t apply to the entire beach. The beach’s natural features are impressive, as visitors are faced with rocky formations that mount the white, soft sand.

#4 – Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester

One of the Best Beaches in North Shore MA

Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester

Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester (Photo credit – tripadvisor.com)

  • It offers a different beaching experience as it offers river swimming
  • It stretches for 0.6-miles and is Cape Ann’s largest beaches

Western Gloucester provides some of the best beaches around Boston, and not all of them are on the ocean. Wingaersheek Beach is positioned on the Annisquam River and gives the impression of a tropical beach, and it even has a picturesque lighthouse!

Swimming here is extremely popular because of the beach’s inviting calm turquoise water. It is surrounded by preserved sand dunes which make you feel as if you’re far from the city. The sand is particularly soft here and is ideal for barefoot beach-walks.

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#5 – Menemsha Beach, Chilmark

The Best Beach in Massachusetts for Watching Sunsets

Menemsha Beach, Chilmark

Menemsha Beach, Chilmark (Photo credit – marthasvineyardrentals.org)

  • Famed for its postcard-worthy sunsets, the best on the island and was featured on Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic, Jaws!
  • One of the largest beaches in Menemsha

Situated on Martha’s Vineyard island, Menemsha Beach is located in Northern Chilmark. Chilmark is an enchanting small village, and is a hotspot for fishing (it has a fishing harbor). So, bring along your rods to this beach if you want a great, fresh catch.

If fishing doesn’t interest you, then we’re certain that the calm waters of the Vineyard Sound will. The views from this beach are much more exciting than any ordinary beach – you can see as far as the outermost Elizabeth island; Cuttyhunk.

#6 – Marconi Beach, Cape Cod

Best South Shore beaches MA for Nature

Marconi Beach, Cape Cod

Marconi Beach, Cape Cod (Photo credit – easthamcapecodrental.com)

  • Big waves, big dunes and seal-watching!
  • This is one of the biggest beaches, with a 1.5-mile nature trail

It’s no doubt that the Cape Cod National Seashore offers Massachusetts’ top beaching spots. And Marconi Beach isn’t an exception to this – with unparalleled views and access to the Atlantic Ocean.

If you feel like the other Massachusetts beaches are too timid because of their shallow waters and tranquil waves, then Marconi Beach will pleasantly surprise you. Not only is the beach area itself very spacious, but a 40-foot sand cliff lies directly behind the beach.

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#7 – Singing Beach, Manchester-by-the-Sea

One of the Best Beaches Near Boston

Singing Beach, Manchester-by-the-Sea

Singing Beach, Manchester-by-the-Sea (Photo credit – pixels.com)

  • It attracts lots of visitors due to its rare phenomenon of dry sand that ‘sings’
  • The width of the beach is roughly half-a-mile long

Less than a 40-minute drive away from Boston, this beach will truly give you the ‘sounds of the ocean’. When you walk on the beach’s dry sand, a creaking sound will transpire and you’ll encounter the spectacular singing sand!

Yet, more than being simply a sonic experience, this beach is extremely beautiful. It’s also one of the most spacious and popular Northern Massachusetts beaches as it offers vast sandy spaces. This characteristic (of open sandy beaches) is one that is typically lacking in North Shore beaches, so that means this beach is very unique.

#8 – Long Beach, Plymouth

One of the Best Beaches in South Shore MA

Long Beach, Plymouth

Long Beach, Plymouth (Photo credit – thingstodoinplymouthma.com)

  • It’s one of the few easily-accessible public beaches in Massachusetts
  • Although the beach may not be wide, it stretches for 3-miles

This beach is famed for being a breeding habitat for piping plovers and terns. The town of Plymouth and its locals put much effort into preserving this space for these birds to naturally flourish. So birdwatching here is optimal!

The beach is also known as Plymouth Beach, and offers long stretching sandy beach areas. What’s more, is that when you’re finishing off your tanning and bathing, you can conveniently eat at the on-site seafood restaurant. It’s called Sandy’s and serves the freshest, most scrumptious seafood.

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#9 – Craigville Beach, Barnstable

An Accessible Private Beach

Craigville Beach, Barnstable

Craigville Beach, Barnstable (Photo credit – wikipedia.org)

  • Popular for swimming and kite-surfing
  • The beach is huge; being both long and wide

This beach is located on Nantucket Sound and is one of the only beaches in this district that are open to the public. This comes at a daily parking fee though, at $15 USD during the week, and $20 USD on weekends. The beach oozes a youthful energy, with students declaring this as their ideal site for socializing.

The beach is in Barnstable, Cape Cod’s largest town. While there may not be an on-site cafe, there are lots of restaurants nearby that you should eat at. This would present a genuine New England experience. Which is famous for the prime seafood dishes due to the many fishing opportunities in the estuaries and the Atlantic Ocean.

#10 – Horseneck Beach Reservation, Westport

One of the Most Popular Massachusetts Beaches

Horseneck Beach Reservation, Westport

Horseneck Beach Reservation, Westport (Photo credit – wbsm.com)

  • Popular for beach-camping getaways and surfcasting
  • It extends for 2-miles and includes a cobblestoned beach

This conservation area is located on the Western edge of Buzzards Bay. It’s the perfect getaway for those wanting to escape from the bustling city to the calm nature. Bird fanatics will be kept very busy here with its prolific birdlife that flourishes.

Activities include fishing, sailing, boat rentals and designated picnic spots for those who visit. It’s certainly among the best beaches Massachusetts has to offer for outdoor nature experiences. That’s because the beach boasts 100 camping sites.

#11 – Halfmoon Beach, Gloucester

The Bluest of the Northern Massachusetts Beaches

Halfmoon Beach, Gloucester

Halfmoon Beach, Gloucester (Photo credit – trover.com)

  • Its transparent, blue waters are highly sought-after
  • One of the smaller, untouched beaches

This narrow, crescent-shaped beach is enclosed by cliffs and rock formations. It’s a unique beach because of its positioning in the Stage Fort Park, where Gloucester’s first settlers dwelled in the early 17th century.

The beauty and convenience of the beach lie in its having shaded areas as well as direct sun areas. The shade is provided by the lush green trees that can be found in the back of the beach.

Halfmoon Beach seems out of place for the area, giving the impression of a tropical island beach. In order to arrive at the beach, you’ll need to walk down a staircase that is covered by tall green trees.

#12 – Cold Storage Beach, Dennis

A Quieter Beach Retreat

Cold Storage Beach, Dennis

Cold Storage Beach, Dennis (Photo credit – trover.com)

  • One of the calmer, quieter Cape Cod beaches
  • It’s also a pretty large beach, extending for 13-acres

This beach is another one that is under the radar, despite its massive size. It provides beach-goers with tame waters that are perfect for subtle dipping or kiddies swimming. It runs close to the Sesuit Harbour in Eastern Dennis.

The western section of the beach traces along the Sesuit Harbor and Sea Street Beach is located on the east. The advantage of this beach is that even during the high-tide, the water levels remain low. This means pleasant, tranquil swimming is definitely possible here.

#13 – Ellisville Harbor State Park Beach, Plymouth

Best South Shore Beaches for Nature Experiences

Ellisville Harbor State Park Beach, Plymouth

Ellisville Harbor State Park Beach, Plymouth (Photo credit – tripadvisor.com)

  • Known for its red pine forests and open grassy fields that culminate in the ocean
  • Spans almost 100-acres, with a 2-mile hiking trail along the coast

Hiking trails are offered here through the shoals, salt marshes and along the Ellisville Harbor. That means you’ll have plenty of swimming opportunities here. From the harbor to the Atlantic Ocean, both of which the park meanders along.

Bird-lovers will be in heaven here; with the State Park housing many different species of prolific birdlife. But off the land, and into the blue, harbor seals are able to be spotted too! And this can occur during any season.

#14 – Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Chatham

One of the most Picturesque Public Beaches in Massachusetts

Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Chatham

Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Chatham (Photo credit – weneedavacation.com)

  • Loved for its strong currents (favorable for windsurfers) and rugged spacious beach area
  • The largest beach in Chatham

This public beach is definitely among the top 10 beaches in Massachusetts. In the warmer months, lush green grass and multicolored flowers cover the sand dunes, all against the backdrop of a functioning lighthouse. If you’re lucky enough, in the summer, you can visit the lighthouse free of charge.

It’s also known for attracting large seal pods, which swim close to the shore. The views on this beach are exceptional, extending across Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

#15 – Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester

One of the Best Massachusetts Beaches for Coastal Hiking

Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester

Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester (Photo credit – fineartamerica.com)

  • Known for its big waves and scenic nature trails
  • It extends for 1.4-miles

Gloucester has some pretty impressive natural coastlines, that are accompanied by lovely trails. Good Harbor Beach is no exception to this, with a coastal route that meanders around the dunes and marshes.

The walk will culminate at a bridge that stretches to another island, allowing for further exploration. Yet, you’ll probably want to return back to the beach because of its generous waves in the Atlantic Ocean.

Final Thoughts on Best Beaches in Massachusetts

So, although Massachusetts’ two shores have shared their differences in the past, they can both pride themselves with prime and diversified beaching experiences. From the ‘tropical’ North Shore Halfmoon Beach in Gloucester to the white sand dunes in the Southern Cape Cod, you’ll never be short of opportunities here.

Most of the above-mentioned beaches are public ones, most of which at a fee. But trust us, these beaches are worth every penny and help conserve them and the wildlife dependant on them.

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About the Author Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson lives to travel! Born in Washington D.C., Emma is a hotel connoisseur and a staff writer at Hotel Jules. An army brat, Emma got the travel bug early and has never been able to stop. Now, she has proudly visited 70+ countries and plans to visit every country in the world! Passionate about her ukelele (obviously) and her family, Emma eventually wants to retire in Thailand and write a book about all of her travel experiences.